New report focuses on health information sharing
| 09.13.2006 | 06:14:27 | Views: 3118 | ID:
September 13 '06: A new report released by the RAND Corporation looks into the national security risks the US government faces in pandemic diseases and their spread in an increasingly globalized world. "Indeed, the US State Department considers disease a potential war trigger," the RAND report reads.
For first responders, emergency management officials, and the federal, state and local governments to adequately respond and mitigate threats posed by infectious diseases, the country must find a way to create a system "for timely and accurate information."RAND interviewed government officials working in national security and infectious diseases regarding preparedness for public health issues and bioterrorism attacks. Beginning in the 1980s and 1990s, the US began to focus resources on combating the potentially widespread threats facing the country but it "remained unclear whether infectious diseases were seriously considered in the national strategy," until the anthrax attacks in 2001. To date, there are about 234 "sources from a wide range of organizational sponsors," about infectious and dangerous diseases and biothreats. To help with integration of all the sources and to protect the country before an outbreak, the Department of Homeland Security has established the National Surveillance Integration System which "is responsible for coordinating federal activities relating to health information technology." The NBIS' other functions serve to organize, design, develop, standardize, implement, maintain, and operate systems used for bioagent surveillance while improving information dissemination for patient care in the field and between responder agencies and their respective institutions. RAND reported that the information obtained and organized by the NBIS will be used by analysts in DHS "to work together with analysts from other federal agencies to process ... information and present their analysis to the DHS Homeland Security Operations Center and an Interagency Incident Management Group." "More and better information must be collected, integrate, and shared across government sectors," the RAND report read. It is also important that the NBIS is designed "to fulfill all critical requirements and are implemented as designed" to ensure the greatest efficiency of transaction for information pertaining to potential threats.
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